My five year old darling comes running to me in the kitchen as I fry the fatty pieces of catfish in a pan and says – “Mummy’s wearing her ‘huggies’ again!”
As I gently push her away so that none of the hot oil splashes onto her soft skin, she asks me: “Daddy, why don’t you wear ‘huggies’?”
“Because Mummy and I are different; Mummy is a girl and I am a boy and God has created us in different ways.” I tried to put it in as simple words as possible so her curious little mind could understand.
“So, all Mummies and Daddies are different; all girls and boys? Me and Babu (her little brother) are also different?”
“Why?” she asks as I give her an apple to eat.
“Do you see how beautiful the garden looks with all the different flowers? So many colours, so many shapes?” She chews on and listens intently. “The difference makes the world beautiful and just as our five fingers are of different sizes so that we can do things like catching a ball, a family too has different people like Mummy, Daddy, babies like you and Granny and Granddad, so that it can function properly and be a happy one.”
“But why the ‘huggies’?”
“Okay, let’s see!” I wondered how to break it to a five-year old. “Hmmm… Remember when your tooth fell out and then a new one grew in its place?”
“Your nails grow, Granddad cuts them for you and they grow back again?”
“And when you hurt yourself and scratch your skin and blood comes out… what happens after that?”
“Mummy puts medicine and it is all better.”
“And there’s new skin!”
“Hehe!” she smiles as she nods in excitement.
“So, every month a little skin inside mummy’s tummy comes off for new skin to grow. You know when the skin gets torn,blood comes out? The same thing happens to Mummy. And just as she put some cotton on your bleeding wound, Mummy uses her ‘huggies’ to soak the blood so that her clothes don’t get all stained.”
At this the little one cringed her nose and asked, almost scared, “Does it hurt Mummy? Does she cry?”
“Well, sometimes it does but it’s not that bad. She sometimes takes one medicine and it gets all good. You can ask Mummy about it.”
Suddenly, she ran to her Mummy. “Mummy, are you hurting?”
“No, my baby. Why?”
“Daddy said that you scratched your skin and blood is coming out and…”
“Haha! Did Daddy scare you? I am feeling well, dear and even if I don’t,Daddy always helps me get better. So, don’t you worry.”
The chubby little thing came back to me running, “Where does the blood come out from?”
I was again put into a thinking mode. You know, the thing with children is that you should never lie to them about these kinds of things. Yet, there is the issue of not saying anything that might disturb their mind. Over the years I have come to realize that with kids, the best way is to explain things in simple terms because they are actually very intelligent and are able to formulate information according to their level of understanding.
“Mummy and I talked to you about ‘good-touch’ and ‘bad-touch’ remember? The blood from Mummy’s tummy comes out of that private place below the stomach.”
“Uh-oh! So she wears her ‘huggies’ the same way Babu wears his!”
I couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. Didn’t I just tell you about how kids are intelligent enough to process information according to their level of understanding? I felt relieved. I was glad she had asked me these questions. I felt as if I had achieved a great feat as a Dad. There are a lot of other things we need to teach our children but it’s all about taking that one tiny step at a time…
“So what have father-daughter been talking about? Always gossiping, endless chatter.” We were all giggling when Trisha, my wife, went to see who was at the door.
“I have had it. I want to go away and never come back home.” It was Sriya, our young neighbor stomping in all angry. “Maasi, can I talk you in private, please?”
“Uh- alright! Come in.” Trisha took Sriya into the bedroom.
I later learnt that Sriya had thought of trying out tampons but when she talked about it with her mother, all hell broke loose.
“Are you mad to put something inside your vagina? Aren’t you worried at all,that your future husband might think you lost your virginity to some boyfriend of yours? We got along fine without all this fancy stuff in our time.” Sriya’s mother, it seems, yelled at her.
“Don’t worry Sriya. This is something very private and if your mother doesn’t understand, it isn’t absolutely necessary to involve her in this. I am myself planning on using a menstrual cup and all I care about is my health and my comfort. Of course, the added advantage is that a menstrual cup is eco-friendly too. Now, you choose what’s right for you.” Trisha explained to Sriya.
It is absurd how we always think of what someone else is going to think about a woman, but never care about what the woman thinks and feels. We expect a woman to take care of everything but never bother about how well she is taking care of her own health. Virginity is overrated and menstruation, underrated. I only hope that I can give my daughter a world where her menstrual blood is most important and not her virginal blood.
Author: Gyanam Saikia
Gyanam hails from Guwahati, Assam. He is passionate about working towards removing the senseless taboos that are rampant in our society, specially affecting women and children.
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